If you’ve been trying to find a vaccine appointment, you might have experienced some consternation about how much time it’s taking you to do this. As additional tiers beyond healthcare workers, nursing home residents, people 65 and older, people with underlying conditions, and teachers open up into all of the aforementioned plus 50 and older, then eventually the general public, it could become even more difficult to find those vaccine appointment slots. Here are a few quick tips to help you navigate this process as efficiently as possible.
Sign up with your doctor(s)
Many doctors, especially if they’re a part of a larger medical facility network, have access to a number of doses. The more organized offices initiated contact with their patients as soon as they were told they’d receive an allotment. If you haven’t heard from your doctor’s office via phone, text or email, contact them via their website or phone to see if they have a wait list – and what you need to do to get on it. If you have more than one doctor, start with your specialists then work your way back to your primary care physician.
Sign up with your employer
Many organizations and businesses that have employees who are considered frontline or essential workers have arrangements with local agencies for vaccine allotments. Check with your employer to see if they have such an agreement and if so, how can you get on the sign-up list? My husband is a teacher, and his school district secured hundreds of vaccines through a local hospital network. The district emailed a sign-up request to all employees. Those who signed up were issued appointments based on age, underlying condition, and the order in which the requests were received.
Sign up with your county’s health department or agency
Most counties have a health department or health agency that has organized mass vaccinations at a public site, such as a mall or stadium. Google these terms to locate your agency:
“Your City vaccine appointment”
“Your County vaccine appointment”
If you want to start out at the state level, here’s a list of the Department of Health for each state:
Sign up with your preferred pharmacy
Many pharmacies have received vaccine doses. Contact your preferred pharmacy or nearby pharmacies via their website or phone to find out how to make an appointment. Nationwide pharmacies with allotments include Walmart, Albertsons, Publix, CVS, Rite Aid, Costco and Walgreens to name a few. Many independent and local pharmacies also have vaccine shots available. To find them, Google:
“where to get the covid-19 vaccine in Your City”
“where to get the covid-19 vaccine near me”
For a complete list of pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, visit this CDC page:
Bookmark specific web pages
If you’d prefer to do your sign-ups through the internet, bookmark the specific sign-up page(s) you need to visit instead of bookmarking a general home page or information overview page. Here are a few nationwide pharmacy sign-up pages to bookmark:
Wal-Mart (you’ll need an account to access this sign-up page):
CVS (click on your state on this page and bookmark the sign-up page for your area):
Walgreens (follow the instructions on this page and bookmark the sign-up page for your area):
HEB (a Texas chain):
To find the specific page for your pharmacy, Google:
“sign up for covid vaccine at Your Pharmacy in Your City”
Create a vaccine notepad for phone calls
If you prefer using your phone over a computer, you can save time by having your information in one place. Grab a notebook or clip together several sheets of paper to create your Vaccine Info Packet. At the top of each sheet, write:
Pharmacy Name Phone Number Address Hours
On each sheet, you can keep notes about who you spoke with from that particular pharmacy, what their latest news is and – hopefully! – when and where your appointment will be.
Sign up for updates
Many organizations that are offering vaccines offer a sign-up for updates. If you don’t want to spend all day dialing or visiting websites, sign up for email updates so you’ll know when more appointment slots open up.
Prepare to receive your vaccine
While you wait for your appointment date to roll around, you can use the time to prepare for getting your vaccine. Consider:
Time off? – Some people have reactions to the shots. If you can’t schedule your vaccine shot for the last half of the day or a Friday afternoon, consider taking the afternoon and/or the following day off as a precaution. If you don’t have that luxury, consider not booking any appointments that afternoon and the day after so you don’t have to worry about rescheduling if you do have a reaction.
Take caution with steroids – Many doctors advise avoiding steroids for two weeks before and after each shot. Definitely check with your doctor about this. Read this preliminary information about medication reactions to the COVID vaccine to know what to ask your doctor:
Nurture your immune system – It can’t hurt to be as healthy as possible when you walk in. Hydrate. Get plenty of sleep. Eat well. Take your vitamins.
Avoid pre-medicating – Some people are trying to prevent reactions by boosting their doses of antihistamines and pain relievers beforehand. Experts advise not to do this because it might affect the efficacy of your shot and/or your body’s immune system response. Wait until after.
I’m not a doctor, so you should check with yours to verify how the above information applies to your specific situation. For general medical advice, here’s good ol’ Web MD:
My vaccine experience
When I realized early on that finding a vaccine appointment for myself or a loved one could easily turn into a time-consuming task, I Googled all the information I shared with you above. On my bookmarks bar, I created a folder called Vaccines and dropped my five preferred sign-up pages into the folder. Once or twice a day when I took a break from work, I’d pop onto each page to check for openings. I did sign up for updates from one organization, but I quickly discovered that if you didn’t attempt to register for an appointment within one hour of that notification, all of the slots would be filled. I refuse to let email, text and other notifications interrupt my workflow and slow me down, so for my situation, I relied on the bookmarks instead of updates.
Several people we know had reactions to the vaccine. Only one experienced symptoms immediately. The rest began experiencing them in the evening and the reaction (ranging from mild body aches to down-and-out flu-like symptoms) continued into the next day. Ideally, we would have registered for Friday afternoon appointments, but we didn’t have much choice about the date and time. We blocked off on our calendars the evening for recuperation time and made sure there were no appointments scheduled for the following day.
My husband was sore for two days after his first shot. I did my softball arm exercises from high school, and I was only sore that day. We both got the shot in our non-dominant arm so the soreness really didn’t affect us.
After our first shot, a number of our friends who’d experienced reactions after their first shots reported that they took all sorts of Vitamin C and D supplements plus Zinc prior to their second shots, which went much better, so we decided to “juice up” the week prior to our second shots. Tangerines became a daily staple, and each day we each juiced two limes worth of juice into our glasses of water. This was in addition to our regular supplements.
My husband’s second shot is this week. Mine is next week. I’ll report back to let you know how our juicing theory went!
Until then, I hope that you can use the vaccine appointment information I shared to cut back on lost time related to securing an appointment.